Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
On the face of it, the issue seems simple: Rep. Darrell Issa asked Attorney General Eric Holder a question, and Holder fibbed. The AG said he learned about the “gun walking” program “Fast and Furious” last spring, but official records indicate he was briefed as early as July of 2010.
But remember: This is Washington, D.C., we’re talking about, and we contacted a Justice Department spokesman who explained very carefully how Holder did not lie.
“First of all, the attorney general was asked a very ambiguous question,” said Howard Bashford, an assistant associate deputy secretary in Justice’s Bureau of Propaganda. “Given Rep. Issa’s sloppy phrasing, it’s no wonder Mr. Holder was confused.”
“Ambiguous?” we said. “Sloppy? Here are Issa’s exact words: ‘When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called ‘Fast and Furious,’ to the best of your knowledge what date?’ How was that ambiguous?”
Bashford answered blandly, “We’ve already explained that Mr. Holder thought he was being asked when he had learned the operational details of ‘Fast and Furious,’ not precisely when he first heard of it.”
“The word ‘first’ was in Issa’s question,” we said. “However, the words ‘operational details’ were nowhere to be found. How could the AG conclude they were intended?”
“By the word ‘know,’” said Bashford. “Rep. Issa asked, ‘When did you first know about the program. In the Justice Department, you don’t really know about anything until you are familiar with the operational details. It was natural for Mr. Holder to think that’s what was being asked.
“Why, just the other day, my wife asked me if I knew when the last two pieces of lemon meringue pie disappeared from our refrigerator. Naturally, I assumed she was asking when I understood the operational details of how to bake such a pie, rather than the precise date of its removal.
“Of course, I told her I had no idea, because I did not – and to this day I do not – have any idea how one makes a lemon meringue pie.”
“How was it?” we asked.
“Delicious!” Bashford replied. “The important thing is I didn’t lie, because I lacked the intent to mislead.”
“Let’s move on,” we said. “Mr. Holder said he took ‘great exception’ to Issa’s ‘notion that somehow or other this Justice Department is responsible’ for the deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and others.’
“Holder called the assertion ‘offensive’ and added, ‘I’ve had to look into the eyes of widows, of mothers who have lost sons. I have felt their pain, and the notion that somehow, some way we are less than vigilant, less than strong in our determination to keep the people who put their lives on the line every day to protect the American people, that we’re not doing all that we can to protect them is inconsistent with the facts, inconsistent with the people who serve in the Department of Justice.’”
“Yes … yes,” said Bashford, wiping away a tear. “It was a touching sentiment.”
We pressed, “But the attorney general said it was all still under investigation, so how could he already know the assertion was ‘inconsistent with the facts’?”
“Well, they’re certainly inconsistent with the facts as we would like them to be,” said Bashford hotly. “And if there’s one thing about which this attorney general has been consistent it is his insistence on the facts as he would like them to be.
“Besides …” Here Bashford hesitated, then plunged ahead, “Bush started it! The Bush administration had a similar operation – ‘Operation Wide Receiver.’”
“And it did the same things and did them just as badly as ‘Fast and Furious’?” we asked.
“We sure hope so,” Bashford replied.